WILBERFORCE — Known more for his passing on an NBA basketball court, Magic Johnson came up with a huge assist for Central State University Friday.
The NBA legend was in Wilberforce to help christen CSU’s new $33.5 million University Student Center and kick off the school’s capital campaign, thanks to the enticement of President Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond.
“I was very impressed with what she wants to do here at Central State University,” Johnson said. “Her vision. Her strategy. What she wants to do with the university. For us to partner … we’re going to do some amazing things together. I believe in this university.”
In addition to helping cut the ribbon on the shiny new digs, Johnson said he is going to make a personal monetary contribution to the school.
“It was easy for me to buy in,” Johnson said. “(To) make sure that kids continue to get the world class education.”
Through the Magic Johnson Foundation there are 120 college students on scholarship and through the CSU capital campaign, the Hall of Famer wants to help raise money to help keep the historically black college viable and to make sure everyone has a chance to go to school.
“I grew up poor, bankrupt,” said Johnson — former owner of the Dayton Dragons. “A lot of these students are first-timers. They are the first one in their family to go to college.”
Johnson was the first in his family to attend college (Michigan State University) and because of that, his younger siblings went to college and now have solid professions.
The state-of-the-art Student Center has 85,000 square feet and amenities that include a 568-seat cafeteria, a convenience store and bookstore, administrative offices and other student-centered services.
It began as the dream of former president John Garland and was finished under the current administration.
“Keeping true to my gender, John found the money and I found the way to spend it,” Jackson-Hammond said.
In addition to his contributions to Central State, Johnson hinted that the City of Xenia could be a good location for one his his popular Magic Johnson Theaters, which have served as catalysts for redevelopment in urban communities.
“We didn’t have any movie theaters (in Lansing, Mich.),” Johnson said. “I understand what the kids are going through.”
NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson addresses the crowd at Central State University Friday.
Magic Johnson and CSU dignitaries cut the ribbon on the new university student center.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.